If you’re stuck in your comfort “cocoon” — pretty much those of us who reside either in major cities, coastal states or other parts of this enormous melting pot, I highly suggest you get out on some of the finest highways our country has to offer. The recent road trip to attend a Celebration of Life in Columbia, MO (the story why we drove was covered in the last post), accomplished just that.
Our route is below: LA-St. George UT (lunch) -Limon CO (overnight) – St. Louis (overnight) – Columbia MO (service) – Kansas City MO (Gates BBQ) – Mulvane KS (overnight) – OKC (OKC Memorial) – Amarillo (The Big Texan) – Flagstaff (overnight) – Barstow (best Mexican food at Lola’s Kitchen) -LA.
When I wasn’t driving, I was posting Instagram stories (to keep from getting bored).
Random thoughts on the trip in no particular order:
- The legal speed limit throughout much of Utah is 80 mph. That means I could go 90+ without much concern. Most of Kansas, Arizona, Colorado, etc., is 75. CA — what’s up??
- There was a swing of more than 50 degrees in the course of 24 hours — from a low of 40 in the Rockies to 95+ in other parts.
- There was an incredible display of lightening east of Denver in the pitch-black night, but almost no rain encountered.
- Billboards prominently featured in Kansas and Missouri would create anarchy in California. Free speech is alive and well in these states. No doubt there are folks who don’t like what they see, but I didn’t see a single billboard with graffiti or any other display of discord.
- On the flip side of promoting the sanctity of life and religion, there are billboards advertising “adult superstores.” Colorado has a very limited number of billboards of any type throughout the state.
- The scenery in Utah is incredibly beautiful, having nothing to do with foliage — rather rock formations.
- St. Louis has a fabulous baseball stadium! Right in the heart of the city that you can walk up to. And the diaspora of their fan base is enormous so folks come from all the surrounding states to get their baseball fix. By the way, Missouri has the most contiguous states in the U.S. — eight of them. Blame the hubby if the math is incorrect.
- One can work in the hotel business and not know the difference between feather and foam pillows, or which one is even offered at the hotel where they might work. I have “extra feather pillows” as part of my hotel profile. That’s a biggie to me.
- Hotel rates are negotiable, especially late at night. Do your homework, and don’t feel pressured to accept the rack rate. Call ahead and let the desk clerk know you’re informed on the subject.
- “The Hill” area of St. Louis has no view. But it has all the best Italian food offered. Go to the original Ted Drewes (on Chippewa) for frozen custard. But be prepared to wait in line, especially after a Cards game or probably any other time. In December, you can get frozen custard and buy your Christmas tree at Ted Drewes.
- The road conditions immediately improve once one leaves California. I mean like just past the state line. It is a remarkable thing to experience.
- Kansas somehow has managed to have a toll road on Interstate 70 — which is a federal highway. How does that work? Speaking of Kansas, it is the flattest place I’ve ever seen. But Missouri has some of the most beautiful trees and agricultural fields. Amazing.
- Enormous bugs hit the windshield loudly and leave marks the size of half dollars.
- There’s a stretch along the I-70 in Utah that goes for about 90 miles with no services — gas, food, etc., except for a couple of rest stops. Be sure to watch for it and gas up beforehand! We missed the sign. But the hubby never let our car get below half a tank, so all was well.
- As told to us by George Gates (with the hubby below), grandson of the founder of KC’s Gates BBQ, there are 126 different BBQ stops in KC. All different. This was my first trip to Gates (others previously visited: Arthur Bryant’s and Jack Stack). I loved it. George’s own grandson was with him. Much of the Gates family is involved in the business (over 300 employees). If you choose not to work at the family “shop,” that’s fine. But don’t expect free food when you come to the stores.
Go big or go home (below): At the Big Texan in Amarillo, your meal is free if you finish this 72-oz behemoth within 60 minutes. You should also get free angioplasty if you eat that steak.
Finally, huge kudos to my hubby for meticulously providing music. My car has satellite radio but there’s no auxiliary outlet for a music device. So he brought over 50 CD’s for us to enjoy. Broadway, Bruno Mars, Sinatra and Big Band music plus Maroon 5 thrown in to the mix. It was a blast — nearly 4,000 miles over 4-1/2 days. So much fun.